It’s cold and windy and snowy most places this month and February looks like more of the same. Best thing to do nights is to curl up warm and watch some of your favorite programming. HBO might just have what you are looking for. As always the network offers diverse series, witty commentary, informative shows and entertaining movies alongside repeats of some of your favorite actors and flicks. And, as always, we try to point out some of those highlights in this monthly update. Though the weather outside is frightful you can find something delightful across the various HBO platforms to make you laugh, think and wonder. Here is What’s On.
Originals: HBO is not wavering off its big Sunday night programming in 2014. Three series continue their showings from 9:00pm – 11:00pm. Are you following the current drama and comedies? First, TRUE DETECTIVE continues its run with four new episodes. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson and company are offering a truly tense and dark storyline and continue to do so with the following episodes starting on February 09. Note that is not a typo, the show skips an airing on 02.01 because of the Super Bowl.
— Episode #4: “Who Goes There”: Hart and Cohle follow a series of dangerous leads in an effort to locate a prime suspect. Written by Nic Pizzolatto; directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. Air dates: 02.9, 02.10, 02.11, 02.12, 02.13, 02.15 and 02.21. 13, 14, 15 and 21
— Episode #5: ““The Secret Fate of All Life”: Hart and Cohle share the spoils of a solved case; Papania and Gilbough confront the detectives with troubling new intelligence. Written by Nic Pizzolatto; directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. Air dates: 02.16, 02.17, 02.18, 02.19, 02.20, 02.21, 02.22 and 02.28
— Episode #6: “Haunted Houses”: Maggie sheds light on Cohle’s activities in 2002, when his relationship with Hart fractured and Cohle quit the force. Written by Nic Pizzolatto; directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. Air dates: 02.23, 02. 24 , 02.25, 02.26, 02.27 and 02.28.
TRUE DETECTIVE episodes # 1, # 2 & # 3 will air back to back on Friday night 02.07 beginning at 7:00pm ET and again on Saturday 02.08 beginning at 10:15pm.
Created by and starring Lena Dunham, the Emmy-winning series GIRLS is a comic look at the assorted humiliations and rare triumphs of a group of gals in NYC. Note the following schedule change due to the Super Bowl. The show continues its twelve episode run of its third season with a new episode debuting Saturday, 02.01 from 10:00-10:30pm. The episode also runs in its usual timeslot followed by other new episodes debuting on subsequent Sundays at the same time. The four episode of the coming month are –
— Episode #25: “Only Child”: Hannah is thrilled to be in the presence of the literary illuminati at the funeral of her editor, David Pressler-Goings, until she learns that her eBook deal may also be dead. Later, she tries to help Adam and Caroline work through their anger issues; Jessa makes some positive changes; and Ray gives Marnie some candid advice. Written by Murray Miller; directed by Tricia Brock. Air dates: 02.01, 02.02, 02.03, 02.04, 02.05, 02.06 and 02.07
— Episode #26: “Free Snacks”: Hannah gets a job writing advertorials at GQ but worries the corporate environment will kill her creative mojo. Shoshanna rethinks her breakup in light of Ray’s newfound success, while he and Marnie butt heads over lunch. (Written by Paul Simms; directed by Jamie Babbit. Air dates: 02.09, 02.10, 02.11, 02.12, 02.13 and 02.14
— Episode #27: “Beach House”: During a Long Island weekend getaway with the girls, Hannah runs into Elijah and invites him and his friends to the beach house, hoping to take the pressure off of Marnie’s rigorous schedule for honesty and healing. Written by Jenni Konner & Lena Dunham & Judd Apatow; directed by Jesse Peretz. Air dates: 02.16, 02.17, 02.18, 02.19, 02.20 and 02.21
— Episode 28: “Incidentals”: During a GQ advertorial interview, Patti LuPone warns Hannah that Adam will change now that he’s been cast in a Broadway play. Meanwhile, Jessa’s boredom at work is interrupted by an unexpected visit from Jasper, an old friend. Later, Hannah is assigned to review the Gramercy Park Hotel, and the group celebrates Adam’s success with his cast mate Desi, who Marnie finds particularly captivating. Written by Lena Dunham & Sarah Heyward; directed by Richard Shepard. Air dates: 02.23, 02.24, 02.25, 02.26, 02.27 and 02.28.
Following Hannah and friends are the boys in LOOKING. The show, which revolves around three friends in San Francisco who explore the fun and varied options available to a new generation of gay men, follows the same scheduling at its lead-in debuting the first episode of the month on Saturday, 02.01 then continuing on its regular night the week after. February episodes are –
— Episode #3: “Looking at Your Browser History”: At a video-game launch party onboard an aircraft carrier, Patrick and his coworker Owen meet Kevin, a gay Brit who turns out to be Patrick’s new boss. Elated after his verbal beat down of Ethan, Dom tells Doris about his plans to start a Portuguese-chicken restaurant. Agustín is fired by Stina after opining that her chair sculpture is lame, but his outlook on art and life gets a lift when he meets a sex worker named CJ. Written by Michael Lannan and Andrew Haigh; directed by Andrew Haigh. Airdates: 02.01,02.0 2, 02.03, 02.04, 02.05, 02.06 and 02.07.
— Episode 4: “Looking for $220/Hour”: Taking a break from working in the office on a Sunday, Patrick and Kevin connect while chatting about relationships, but are interrupted by a call from Kevin’s boyfriend. Later, Agustín, Doris and Dom’s coworker Hugo take in the leather-filled sights of the Folsom Street Fair, and convince Patrick to join them. Dom asks Lynn to lunch, but it’s not clear whether it’s for a date or to talk business. Agustín finds CJ at the fair and considers “hiring” him for an art project. Written by Allan Heinberg; directed by Ryan Fleck. Air dates: 02.09, 02.10, 02.11, 02.12, 02.13 and 02.14.
— Episode #5: “Looking for the Future”: After calling in sick, Patrick and Richie visit Golden Gate Park and other San Francisco sites, learning more about their pasts and plans for the future. Written by Andrew Haigh; directed by Andrew Haigh. Air dates: 02.16, 02.17, 02.18, 02.19, 02.20 and 02.21.
— Episode #6: “Looking in the Mirror”: Patrick tries to hide his nervousness about Richie meeting his friends for the first time at Dom’s 40th birthday party. Lynn hosts a dinner to introduce Dom to potential investors; later, Dom insists to Doris that he and Lynn are just friends. Agustín, frustrated with the progression of his project, invites CJ to the birthday picnic, where he and Frank finally cross paths. Written by JC Lee & Tanya Saracho; directed by Joe Swanberg. Air dates: 02.23, 02.24, 02.25, 02.26, 02.27 and 02.28. Note that both GIRLS and LOOKING, though seen in their regular timeslot on Sunday 02.02 will debut a night earlier due to the Super Bowl. Check back with HBOWatch weekly for reviews of all three of these HBO series.
The original content wouldn’t be the same if Bill Maher wasn’t there with REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER. Look at the numbers attached to these episodes; he is up into the three hundreds, making him about that old too. You know the format so here are the air dates. Edition #306: 02.07, 02.09, 02.10, 02.11 and 02.12; Edition #307: 02.14, 02.16, 02.17, 02.18 and 02.19; Edition #308: 02.21, 02.23, 02.24, 02.25 and 02.26; Edition #309: 02.28 and into March. Catch this fun clip.
Theatrical Movies: Hollywood films have always been a part of the package and this coming month is no different with four big movies premiering. They are EPIC, 42, GANGSTER SQUAD and NOW YOU SEE ME. As is the routine they will debut one each Saturday night and HBOWatch will give its thoughts to each movie as they appear. Before a brief synopsis of each here is a Movies on HBO promo.
Last month’s tease clued you that there would be something epic this month and here it is – the debut of EPIC on the channel. In this animated adventure film a teenage girl enters a hidden world where warriors protect the forest from evil creatures. It premieres on 02.02 beginning at 7:15pm ET. Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried of BIG LOVE, Christoph Waltz, Aziz Ansari, Chris O’Dowd of FAMILY TREE, Jason Sudeikis, Steven Tyler and Beyoncé Knowles all lend their voices. It looks beautiful in lush with its color palette but is is it a great story to live up to the name of EPIC? Find out in February. Directed by Chris Wedge; screenplay by James V. Hart & Williams Joyce and Dan Shere and Tom J. Astle & Matt Ember; story by Williams Joyce & James Hart and Chris Wedge. PG Air dates: 02.01, 02.02, 02.04, 02.09, 02.12, 02.15, 02.20, 02.22, 02.28. Chadwick Boseman got his start on All My Children and has appeared as characters in such primetime shows as CSI:NY, Persons Unknown, Fringe and Justified. He now as moved into features as he stars as sports legend Jackie Robinson, who broke major league baseball’s color barrier, in 42, debuting 02.08 at 8:00pm ET. The critically acclaimed biopic also stars Harrison Ford, Christopher Meloni (OZ) and Nicole Beharie. The critics loved the story of the baseball great, do you? Directed and written by Brian Helgeland. PG-13 Air dates: 02.08, 02.09, 02.13, 02.16, 02.17, 02.18, 02.20, 02.22, 02.26.
An L.A. sergeant creates a squad of vigilante police officers dedicated to taking down a ruthless crime lord in the 1940s crime drama GANGSTER SQUAD, premiering 02.15. It stars Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn and Emma Stone and is loosely based on an actual task force that was formed in Los Angeles back then. It may be a great movie to take in, but it isn’t an original idea. The movie Muholland Falls and the recent miniseries Mob City on TNT shared the same theme. Directed by Ruben Fleischer; screenplay by Will Beall and Rated R; Air dates: 02.15, 02.16, 02.20, 02.23, 02.24, and 02.27.The last first-run movie of the month is NOW YOU SEE ME on 02.22. In this one an FBI agent and a detective track four illusionists after they perform a seemingly impossible bank robbery before a large Las Vegas audience. Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson(TRUE DETECTIVE), Melanie Laurent, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco star with Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman in the hit thriller. Directed by Louis Leterrier with screenplay by Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin and Ed Ricourt; Rated PG-13; Airdates: 02.22, 02.23, 02.27 and into March. It sounds like a great cast, but the movie can only be as good as the illusion heist itself. This movie and all the others can also be found on HBOGo.
Documentary: February offers two new films and another installment of a continuing series. The first HBO Documentary Films presentation really grabs my attention which is to be explained further upon its review. It is called QUESTIONING DARWIN and it debuts on Monday, 02.10 at 9:00pm ET. The film takes an in-depth look at modern-day creationist theory embraced by those who reject evolution, and also examines how Charles Darwin’s findings and theory of natural selection affected his own conception of God in the mid-1800s. Director Antony Thomas offers a fascinating and thought-provoking examination of a 150- year debate that has only intensified with the rise of evangelical Christianity in the United States. Produced & directed by Antony Thomas; executive producer for HBO, Sheila Nevins; Rated PG; Air dates are 02.10, 02.13, 02.16, 12.19, 02.22. Debuting Monday, 02.24 at 9:00pm ET is HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN which celebrates Sandra Bush, the mother and longtime muse of the film’s director, New York-based artist Mickalene Thomas. Featuring intimate interviews with “Mama Bush,” as well as personal and archival photos, the film is an emotional portrait of mother-daughter reconciliation as Sandra Bush achieves a measure of celebrity posing for her daughter’s most famous paintings. Featuring Sandra Bush; conceived and directed by Mickalene Thomas; Rated PG; Aid dates are 02.24, 02.27 and into March. The MasterClass series also presents ANNA DEVERE SMITH: A YOUNGARTS MASTERCLASS. It debuts 02.17 at 7:30pm ET and once again showcases an accomplished artist, in this case the renowned actress, playwright and professor Anna Devere Smith (pictured), who mentors groups of gifted high school students in an intimate classroom environment. It is produced and directed by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon. This work airs on 02.17, 02.20, 02.23 and 02.26.
Sports: The other stalwart to the channel besides Bill Maher is Bryant Gumbel. Mr. G. and company hold down the sports programming for the month with another installment of REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL. Edition # 203 debuts 02.25 at 10:00pm ET and airs again on 02.28 and into March.
Other Movies & Shows: If that doesn’t catch your interest then there are always the repeats that rotate on the schedule. You never can tell what you may find. Just cruising the schedule quickly I found such nuggets as comedies like LEWIS BLACK: BACK ON BROADWAY; movies like THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS, HBO Films: MARY AND MARTHA and HBO Miniseries MILDRED PIERCE. There is also specials like HBO Documentary Film: SAVING FACE, LOVE, MARILYN and BEYONCE: LIFE IS BUT A DREAM. How about a couple of non-primetime premieres? CODE 46: is about a chilling dystopian existence not that far in the future; VEHICLE 19 stars the late Paul Walker (Fast and Furious 6) and is shot almost entirely inside a car as an ex-con accidently picks up the wrong rental car because inside is a cell phone with a cryptic text message, a gun under the seat and a lady tied up in the back.
HBO’s Other Platforms: A lot of repeat programmingacross the other channels in the second month of ’14. Here are some scant offerings from each. HBO Latino: How about THESIS ON A HOMICIDE? It is kind of a cool title. It is about a law professor obsessed with proving one of his top students is a psychotic murderer and ends up being a big cat-mouse game. Feel free to snoop around HBO.com Schedule module or go to HBOLatino.com (if you read Spanish) to find content of interest. Did you even know there was a site for that channel? HBO Family: This channel is offering a few items I don’t think we’ve mentioned before. A DIFFERENT TREE is about a family tree experiment that draws a young school girl to her absentee father. DEAD MEN DON’T WEAR PLAID is a Steve Martin vehicle that spoofs film noir classics and includes archival footage og greats like Humphrey Bogart. LITTLE MANHATTAN is about two eleven-year olds falling in love or at least, that is what they think they are doing. It could be cute or odd. Somebody watch it and tell us. HBO Signature: Here is a movie I never heard of called CITY OF GHOSTS written, directed and starring Matt Dillon. This 2002 piece tells of a desperate guy hunting down his mentor (James Caan) in Southeast Asia when their insurance scam goes wrong. There is also THE FOOD GUIDE TO LOVE which is a billed as a dysfunctional love story between an Irish food writer and a politically minded Spanish woman. Sorry that is all I got on that one. The Signature channel is also having a marathon of VEEP on 02.17 showing episodes 1 – 18. HBO Comedy: Comedy is king on this channel. Check out the laughs of CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER: TAKING YOU HIGHER, ROBERT KLEIN: UNFAIR AND UNBALANCED and ELLEN DEGENERES: HERE AND NOW. Movies like WAG THE DOG and THE WIZ (not sure why that is not on HBO FAMILY instead) are also in the lineup. HBOGO:The great thing about the site is the series are always available. Now, I wish they’d get some more of the older series on there. Just recently they added VICE Season One. As they rotate out movies and specials some items listed as a Last Chance to watch are the actioner LETHAL WEAPON I, II & III, the comedy of DANA CARVEY: SQUATTING MONKEYS TELL NO LIES, and the documentary LETTING GO: THE HOSPICE JOURNEY. They are making way for content like the actioner BRIDGE OF DRAGONS, the comedy of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATRE 3000: THE MOVIE and the documentary BOY INTERRUPTED. Cinemax: Season Two of the Emmy winning BANSHEE continues FRIDAY, 02.07 at 10:00pm ET. The series stars Antony Starr as Lucas Hood, an ex-con and master thief who assumes the identity of the sheriff of Banshee, Pa., where he continues his criminal activities, even as he’s being hunted by the shadowy gangsters he betrayed years earlier. PROMISED LAND, TRANCE, IDENTITY THIEF and BEAUTIFUL CREATURES are the premieres the channel is promoting in February. And this last one, well sorry but who makes up this stuff! How about SEXUALLY BUGGED in which researchers uncover a mysterious creature that inhabits human bodies during sex, building their libido to feverish heights? A shortened month still filled with entertainment for you. HBO!
Next Month’s Tease: Skip the tease and let’s go hardcore –
Final Clips: The movie clip of choice is EPIC followed by a Winter Promo. Enjoy.